COOPERATIVES


The Jewish cooperative movement began toward the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Its development was part of the general spread of cooperatives throughout the world at that time, and was spurred additionally by the rising socialist and nationalist trends. The specific position of the Jewish artisan, often hemmed in by a hostile society and government, and having traditions as well as actual need of mutual help, led the Jewish cooperative movement from its beginning to lean heavily on artisan producer cooperatives and free-loan cooperatives (gemilut ḥesed associations). The main center of the Jewish cooperative movement before World War I was Russia, but it also began to develop in Galicia, Austria, and Bukovina, as well as countries outside Europe, especially Argentina (for Israel, see below Cooperative Movement in Israel).

Between the two World Wars the Jewish cooperative movement developed rapidly in Poland, Romania, and the Baltic countries, Soviet Russia (in the 1920s), other countries in Eastern and Western Europe, and Latin America. It became then an important instrument of Jewish defense against discrimination and efforts to oust Jews from their economic positions. Much financial help was extended to the movement by the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The Holocaust put an end to the Jewish cooperative movement in Europe, although in several countries, Poland, for example, efforts were made to revive it after the war. The movement continued to develop in South America, especially Argentina.

Russia

The growth of the Jewish cooperative movement in Russia was comparatively rapid, especially in the form of credit cooperatives, owing to the difficult credit terms that burdened the small Jewish trader and artisan (with compound interest as high as 30% or 40%). While in 1900 the number of Jewish credit cooperatives in Russia did not exceed 20, in 1914 there were 678, with a total membership of approximately 400,000, of which 36.0% were small merchants and shopkeepers; 32.6% craftsmen; 7.8% middlemen or agents; 7.4% farmers; 3.1% laborers; and 13.1% in miscellaneous occupations; the overwhelming majority of members came from the middle classes. With the members' families, about 1.5 million persons were served by Jewish cooperatives, approximately one-third of the total Jewish population in Russia. In addition to granting credit, the cooperative societies often engaged in ancillary activities, such as the provision of tools and instruments to artisans on long-term credit, the provision of storage facilities, as well as mutual insurance in case of death. Out of this latter service special insurance societies developed, which in 1912 numbered 95, with a membership of 52,000.

World War I and the subsequent civil war and pogroms in Russia resulted in the destruction of the Jewish cooperative movement there. However, when in 1922 the Soviet government introduced its New Economic Policy (NEP) a renewal took place. In 1929 the *Jewish Colonization Association (ICA) supported 208 cooperatives in the Soviet Union, with a total membership of 67,351. During this period the character of the Jewish cooperatives changed. Only wage earners were allowed to join. In 1929, 93.5% of the membership of the 400 Jewish cooperatives in existence were artisans, about half of the total number then in Russia. The societies' main activity was no longer the supply of credit, but of raw materials, a major problem at that time. Nevertheless, from 1930, Soviet legislation as well as the economic development during the following decade led to the gradual liquidation of the Jewish cooperative movement in the U.S.S.R.

Poland

Efforts made soon after World War I resulted in the establishment in independent Poland of 445 cooperative societies by 1925 and 774 by 1929, mainly saving and loan societies. Attempts to establish producer and consumer cooperatives mostly failed. This fast growth was interrupted during the 1930s partly as a result of the general economic crisis and partly because of anti-Jewish discrimination (see anti-Jewish *boycott).

Of 775 cooperative societies in Poland in 1938, 734 were loan and credit societies; 27 producer cooperatives; 9 agricultural cooperatives; 2 consumer cooperatives; and 3 miscellaneous. The total membership in 1937 was 143,608, serving some 600,000 persons (one-fifth of Polish Jewry).

Other European Countries

A comparatively strong Jewish cooperative movement existed in Romania between the two World Wars. In 1931 there were 88 Jewish cooperative societies having a membership of 67,000, with 30,000 living in Bessarabia, where even before World War I a ramified Jewish cooperative movement already existed. During the 1930s a sharp decline set in, mainly as a result of an economic crisis and antisemitic sentiments. By 1937 the total membership dropped to 52,000. In Czechoslovakia after World War I, a series of Jewish cooperative societies was established, which had a total membership of 7,136 in 1924, rising to 17,772 in 1937. In Bulgaria the first Jewish cooperative (Geulah) was established in 1921; by 1940 there were 23 Jewish cooperatives, of which 20 were credit cooperatives.

The Jewish cooperative movement in the Baltic countries, especially in Lithuania, was highly developed during the period between the two World Wars. In 1937 there were 85 Jewish cooperative banks, with a membership of 15,728. Low-interest loans were available especially to Jewish farmers and artisans. A central bank was established which serviced this cooperative network. Its credit policy aimed at enhancement of productivity. A special agricultural information center was established. In the late 1920s a Jewish cooperative movement began to develop also in Central and Western Europe. In 1928 there were in Germany a cooperative people's bank, Ivriah, which served especially emigrants from Poland and Russia, and a Jewish cooperative society for trade and commerce, founded largely by Berlin Jewish artisans. In the early 1930s efforts were made to establish Jewish cooperative societies in other German towns. At the same time, two cooperatives were established in Paris to assist Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe. Several Jewish cooperatives were also established in London, England.

Argentina

In Argentina the Jewish cooperative movement attained broad diversification.

AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES

These cooperatives developed in the Jewish agricultural settlements of Argentina from 1907, and dealt mainly with crop marketing (especially grain), as well as supply purchasing for farmers. Their activity in the sphere of credit was of secondary importance. These cooperatives declined in number as a result of the constant decrease of the Jewish agricultural population in Argentina.

COOPERATIVE BANKS

During the early 1960s there were some 40 Jewish cooperative banks in Argentina. Of special importance was the Jewish People's Bank in Buenos Aires, established in 1921. It developed rapidly, and by 1953 the number of shareholders reached 14,885. Another cooperative institution of this kind was the Mercantile Bank founded in 1917.

PEDDLER STORAGE COOPERATIVES

An original attempt was made to provide a convenient base and supply center for the Jewish peddler in Argentina. Storage depots were opened in various cities. The peddler could obtain his wares on credit with easy payment terms. Thus he could take samples to houses of far-flung customers, come with their orders to the depot, and supply the demand. He could also direct his clients straight to the cooperative stores in the city where they could make their wholesale purchases on the basis of the samples and recommendations of the peddler. There are also other Jewish cooperatives in Argentina, such as manufacturer societies (for manufacturers of wood products, fur products, knitted products, etc.) mainly for purchase of raw materials from a primary source. The total number of Jewish cooperatives exceeded 100 in the early 1960s. However, economic decline of the cooperatives set in after the bankruptcy of many of them at the beginning of 1970s.

United States

Jews have been particularly active in the general cooperative movements of the United States. During the first decade of the 20th century, the activity of the New York Cooperative League, whose members were mostly Jewish, stimulated consumer cooperatives throughout the United States. The League controlled a number of cooperative millinery stores and a hat factory. It developed a wide information activity, which had great influence among cooperative movements in the United States which were largely Jewish, or had Jewish leadership, included the Growers Marketing Cooperative (serving Jewish farmers in the New York area), producer cooperatives, and housing cooperatives.

[Shaul Zarhi]

In Postwar Poland

One of the most important tasks that the Lublin Jewish Committee (see *Poland) took upon itself immediately after the defeat of the Nazis was to find productive employment for the Jewish survivors. As soon as the Central Committee of Polish Jews was established in Warsaw, economic subcommittees were appointed for each of the larger Jewish communities. They acted as a labor bureau; established a series of cooperatives, several trade schools, agricultural farms; and provided assistance to all those who decided to rebuild their workshops on an individual basis. According to the report of these subcommittees (August 1946), 27 cooperatives, with a membership of 753, were established during the first year of their activity. When the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) resumed its activities in Poland (July 1945), many of these cooperatives received assistance in the form of equipment, and *ORT provided facilities for retraining the Jewish survivors in the skills that were necessary under the new conditions. The coordinating body, known as Solidarity, provided raw materials and marketed the finished products. By the end of 1947 there were 200 cooperative societies with a membership of 6,000, according to the chairman of the Jewish Cooperative Association. The societies' membership grew to more than 9,000 in the following year and reached its peak of 15,500 members in 1949. During the period of Stalinization many of the Jewish economic achievements, which were made possible by the help of the JDC and ORT, were practically liquidated under the pretext of "unification" with the general Polish cooperative movement. With Wladislaw Gomulka's accession to power in 1956 and with the influx of some 40,000 Jews from the Soviet Union, the activities of the JDC and ORT were temporarily resumed and some of the Jewish cooperative societies, especially in Silesia and *Lodz, were revived. In their new form, the Jewish cooperatives maintained a certain liaison with their Polish counterparts. About 20% of their profits were earmarked for cultural and social work. In 1967–68, during the renewed anti-Jewish campaign in Poland, the Jewish cooperatives were once again "unified" with their Polish counterparts.

[David Sfard]

Cooperative Movement in Israel

BACKGROUND

The circumstances surrounding the birth of the cooperative movement in Ereẓ Israel were different from those in other countries, where the purpose of such movements was to combat the negative aspects of the capitalist system that resulted from the industrial revolution. Two factors in particular should be mentioned: Jewish settlement in Ereẓ Israel was a national movement. It was not modeled on colonization movements initiated by individuals (as in the United States, Australia, etc.), but was based upon a united effort of manpower concentrated into original forms of cooperation. Under the conditions prevailing in Ereẓ Israel, cooperation was the only way of facilitating mass settlement. Second, the ideological foundation of the cooperative movement in Ereẓ Israel differed from its European or American counterpart. It did not have its roots in socialism, anarchism, or any other political theory dedicated to ousting a repugnant and unjust order; rather, it was forced upon the Jewish settlers by extremely harsh conditions in the country that could not be overcome without the cooperative factor.

To these factors must be added the rapid development of the economy of Ereẓ Israel, in which cooperative enterprises and organizations played a particularly active and dynamic role (see *Israel, Economic Development), and enabled the cooperative movement to gain important advantages in various branches of the economy. Cooperative bodies were also able to record substantial achievements in the realm of technological progress and the modernization of production methods, as well as in vocational guidance and training of its members. These achievements were particularly important in the consolidation and progress of agricultural settlement. Furthermore, the cooperative movement received a special impetus from the inadequate growth rate of production and employment, which failed to keep up with the growing rate of immigration. A large number of immigrants, as well as some older settlers, could not be absorbed by the private sector and quite frequently solved their problem by joining cooperative establishments. It follows, therefore, that in addition to pursuing the aim held in common by cooperative movements around the world (i.e., improvement of the conditions of life for large numbers of people), the cooperative movement in Ereẓ Israel played an important role in the development of the economy, the advancement of agricultural settlement, and the absorption of immigrants, which has resulted in its present strength in the economic and social life of Israel.

BEGINNINGS OF THE COOPERATIVE MOVEMENT

The beginnings of cooperative organization were discernible in the economy of Ereẓ Israel as early as the second half of the 19th century. During that period, cooperative groups were instrumental in building new residential quarters, especially in Jerusalem, and the first signs of cooperative organization also appeared in the Jewish villages. However, it was not until the beginning of the 20th century that cooperation in its modern sense began to develop. At that time, the cooperative movement in the Jewish community displayed two distinctive branches: a "workers' sector," linked to the labor movement; and a "private sector," composed of agricultural smallholders and middle-class groups in the towns. The branch linked to the labor movement showed a substantial development in the period of the Second Aliyah (1904–14). Special organizational efforts were made in four fields: consumers' societies, contracting, agricultural settlement, and industrial cooperatives in the towns. The first efforts at cooperative consumption were the establishment of workers' kitchens, clubs, laundries, etc.; but these did not endure. The first consumers' cooperative, founded in Reḥovot in 1906, was also unable to survive. Other consumers' cooperatives were established in 1911 (in Jaffa) and 1915 (in Petaḥ Tikvah). During this period, small groups of workers, such as the stone-cutters' groups in Jerusalem, the Ḥaderah commune, etc., banded together to lead a completely cooperative life in the field of consumption. The single most important event in the history of cooperative consumption in Ereẓ Israel was the founding of the national consumers' cooperative, *Hamashbir, in 1916.

The first groups of organized contractors also appeared during this period, accepting projects and carrying them out on a cooperative basis. Numerous groups of this kind, usually of a temporary nature, established themselves in moshavot to undertake work in the orange groves and vineyards. In 1914 the contracting group "Aḥavah" ("brotherhood"), consisting of about 100 workers, was founded in Petaḥ Tikvah. Some workers' groups were also established in the towns, and others undertook projects on the farms that were then being established by the Zionist Organization. One of the latter groups, known as the "The Collective," undertook the cultivation of the training farm at Sejera in 1908 for the period of one year without a manager representing outside interests to direct it. The success of this enterprise received wide acclaim. A similar experiment was undertaken by the farm at *Kinneret in 1908, and the cooperative settlement *Deganyah, which became the first kibbutz in Ereẓ Israel, was founded there in 1909. On the eve of World War I, 14 kibbutz-type settlements existed, all based on complete collectivism.

Finally, this period also witnessed the beginnings of urban production cooperatives linked to the labor movement, such as the cooperative printing press Aḥdut (1910) and a cooperative shoe factory in Jaffa (1912). The development of "private" cooperatives actually preceded the cooperative labor movement. The first impetus toward the establishment and consolidation of private cooperatives arose from the needs and problems of the agricultural sector in the moshavot. The first such cooperative was apparently the Pardess cooperative society for the marketing of citrus, founded in Petaḥ Tikvah in 1900 by a small group of orange growers. Two years later, two more citrus-marketing societies were established in the moshavot. In 1906 the Association of Wine Growers of *Rishon le-Zion and *Zikhron Ya'akov was founded, taking over the vineyards originally established by Baron Edmond de *Rothschild. Other cooperative societies established in the moshavot before the war dealt with the marketing of milk and almonds, the development of irrigation, land amelioration, etc. From 1905 onward a network of cooperative credit societies began to develop in the moshavot and the towns, most of which had no connection with the labor movement. By 1914, 45 such societies were in existence, with a total membership of 1,833. Most of these societies were too weak to overcome the difficulties caused by the war and had to dissolve.

1918–1939

As a result of the intensive demographic and economic development in Palestine during the interwar period, the cooperative movement and its relative importance to the economy greatly expanded. This development was especially true of the labor-linked cooperative movement, whose growth was facilitated by the unification of the labor movement and establishment of the *Histadrut (General Federation of Labor). In the early years of the Mandatory regime, the cooperative movement concentrated mainly on two spheres of activity: agriculture and public works. The network of cooperative agricultural settlements grew in number and form: in addition to the constant increase of kibbutzim, moshevei ovedim ("workers' settlements") came into being, combining the principle of family holdings with marked cooperative tendencies such as mutual help and cooperative purchasing and marketing. The first moshav ovedim, *Nahalal, was founded in 1921. In 1926, a special cooperative organization, *Tnuva, was established to serve as the marketing instrument of the cooperative settlements. Public works, another important sphere of activity in the 1920s, were being carried out on a large scale. Some of the projects were contracted to groups of Jewish workers that functioned on a cooperative basis. In 1921, the Histadrut established an office for public works and building projects in order to centralize the work of these contracting groups. In 1924 this organization became the contracting firm *Solel Boneh, which operated in its initial phase as a cooperative organization.

From the middle of the 1920s, with the accelerated urbanization and industrialization, the cooperative movement began to branch out into new areas. Cooperation in production and services developed at a rapid pace, and a number of industrial enterprises, as well as transport and other service agencies, were formed. The number of workers in the cooperative enterprises dealing with production and services grew from 800 in 1926 to 2,796 in 1936 and 4,625 in 1946–47. The year 1925 also marked the first developments in a network of savings and loan institutions under the auspices of the Histadrut. Against the background of settlement in the towns and increased building activities, cooperative building societies that engaged in the founding of workers' residential quarters also appeared. A wide network of consumers' cooperatives was established, especially from 1930 onward. Simultaneously Hamashbir was reorganized into a cooperative company for centralized wholesale supply; in World War II, it also embarked upon large-scale industrial production. "Private" cooperatives also showed a considerable growth. In the moshavot, the cooperatives for the marketing of agricultural produce were strengthened and diversified, particularly as regards citrus and other kinds of fruit, and wine. The rapid growth of the Pardess cooperative was characteristic of this development: at its start, in 1903–4, it exported a total of 22,500 cases, whereas in 1938–39 its exports of citrus amounted to 3,300,000 cases. A new network of private credit institutions also arose in the 1920s in the towns and the moshavot; most of them were associated with the Merkaz supervisory union. The number of members of the credit institutions affiliated with Merkaz grew from 17,200 in 1930 to 58,706 in 1946.

1948–1970

Following the establishment of the State of Israel and the ensuing general growth of the population and the economy, the cooperative movement also grew remarkably. The existence of a relatively large cooperative sector became an outstanding characteristic of the economy and social fabric of the country, particularly in the field of agriculture. The population of the cooperative villages, which numbered 84,400 in 1948, rose to approximately 208,000 by the end of 1966. Cooperative villages continued to form the great majority of the rural population of the country (app. 80% in 1966); they retained their hegemony in agriculture, and their share in industrial production also rose (from 3% of the gross national industrial product in 1951 to 8% in 1965). Internal shifts, however, took place within the sector of cooperative settlement: the kibbutzim, which represented 64% of the total population of cooperative villages in 1948, represented 40% of the population at the end of 1966, while the percentage living in moshavim rose proportionately. The number of consumers' cooperatives also increased: in 1948 they served 140,000 persons, but by 1966 the figure had risen to 750,000, about a third of the total population. Similar growth was also recorded in other branches of cooperative enterprise.

Nevertheless, the general trend of the cooperative movement in this period was not toward further growth. Some branches of cooperation, especially industrial and credit cooperatives, ran into difficulties and were unable to compete with the private sector of the economy. The number of industrial cooperatives decreased from 287 in 1950 to 102 in 1966, and the number of their employees from 5,042 to 2,997; the number of credit cooperatives also declined, from 94 in 1955 to 17 in 1967 (as a result of the merger of Histadrut-affiliated cooperatives with Bank Hapoalim – the Workers' Bank – and the dissolution of most of the "private" credit cooperatives). This trend appeared to be the outcome of the growing process of concentration and the rise of large industrial and banking concerns. Housing cooperatives also began to lose their importance. Although the cooperative movement was still able to maintain its importance in the rural sector, it ran into great difficulties in urban areas. It also faced increasing social problems after the establishment of the state, particularly the employment of hired labor, which violated the movement's principles. This question also had economic implications stemming from the scarcity of manpower in the cooperative villages, which was caused by the slow growth of their population and the seasonal aspects of agriculture. Hired labor was also a pressing problem for the great transport cooperatives *Egged and Dan.

STRUCTURE OF THE COOPERATIVE MOVEMENT AND ITS PLACE IN THE ECONOMY

The scope of the cooperative movement and its activities in this period are reflected in the following data on the various cooperatives at the end of 1967:

After the establishment of the state, a new network of Arab cooperatives came into being. Whereas during the Mandatory period the Arab cooperatives concentrated on credit and marketing, they now engaged in irrigation and water supply (64 societies), general agriculture (10), production and services (20), and housing (16). It is estimated that approximately 30% of the population, i.e., some 800,000 people, were members of cooperatives.

From the functional aspect, cooperative societies in Israel can be divided into three kinds: (1) consumer cooperatives, which are not the source of their members' livelihood, but provide them with certain benefits – this group includes the consumers' societies, credit societies, housing cooperatives, etc.; (2) productive cooperatives, such as agricultural and industrial cooperatives; (3) "integral" cooperatives, which combine production and consumption. In Israel this group includes the kibbutzim, moshavim shittufiyyim, and the moshevei ovedim in their original form. The predominance of productive and "integral" cooperatives is characteristic of the cooperative movement in Israel, while the consumer cooperatives played a lesser role than in other advanced countries.

COOPERATIVE AGRICULTURAL VILLAGES

Cooperative agricultural villages exist in three forms – kibbutzim, moshavim, and moshavim shitufiyyim. In 1966 there were 228 kibbutzim in existence, comprising a population of 82,000. Most of the kibbutzim belonged to one of the following settlement movements: Iḥud ha-Kibbutzim ve-ha-Kevuẓot, Ha-Kibbutz ha-Arẓi, ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad, and Ha-Po'el ha-Mizrachi (see *Kibbutz movement). There were 365 moshavim including 22 moshavim shitufiyyim, with a total population of 126,000; most of them belonged to the *Moshav Movement or to the moshav union of Ha-Po'el ha-Mizrachi. The cooperative settlement movement established a diversified network of institutions and organizations designed to aid it in its economic and social activities that includes the central settlement organs, which engage in organization and policy making and have a distinct ideological trend; the regional councils in the areas settled by cooperative villages, which carry out municipal and economic activities within these areas; regional purchasing organizations, which serve to improve the flow of supplies and reduce their costs; financial institutions and various funds, which finance the operations of the cooperative villages; and trade organizations, which deal with specific problems of the various branches of agriculture. Apart from the agricultural settlements and their organizations, there were about 375 agricultural societies engaged in various aspects of agriculture – marketing, supplies, irrigation, mechanization, processing, etc. The central marketing organizations – Tnuva, Tenne, and Pardess Syndicate – played an important role in the economy of the country.

During the past three decades, the agricultural cooperatives have undergone profound changes. While in the 1960s and 1970s they enjoyed great prosperity, the inflationary 1980s brought on a severe crisis. Many of the kibbutzim failed to manage themselves efficiently and were faced with such nationwide processes as strong pressure for privatization, the decline in the power of the Histadrut, and the general economic crisis with its ruinous interest rates in a sector that lived by credit. The economic crisis was accompanied by social problems, such as an exodus of the young generation, who chose to live their adult lives elsewhere. The net result was a shift, starting in the 1990s, from collective living to a more privatized way of life, including paid salaries and the development of nonmember housing. This process was still unfolding in the first decade of the 21st century.

The moshavim also faced a severe economic crisis as a result of the general economic situation in the 1980s, accompanied by a cutback in subsidies for agriculture products and the opening of the market to the import of fruits and vegetables from abroad. Many moshav residents liquidated their farms and turned to tourism (letting out rooms) or rented their land to commercial enterprises, as well as seeking employment outside the moshav. Some of the moshavim shitufiyyim dissolved the collective structure and distributed common property among their members. Moshavim became attractive options for city dwellers seeking to live in the country without the onus of operating farms, and as a consequence moshav real estate prices soared.

In 2001 there were 268 kibbutzim in Israel with a population of 115,800, representing 1.7% of the general population; 409 moshavim with 163,300 inhabitants (3%); and 43 moshavim shitufiyyim with 13,100 inhabitants (0.2%). Of the central marketing organizations, only Tnuva survived, operating as a large-scale food corporation.

CONSUMER SOCIETIES

At the beginning of 1967 there were 219 consumer societies in operation, with a combined total turnover of IL 173,000,000. They were spread over 55 cities, development towns, and moshavot. During the 1960s they underwent a far-reaching reorganization: the total number of societies was reduced (due to the low turnover of some) and a comparatively large number of supermarkets and self-service stores were established. At the end of 1966 there were 40 supermarkets and approximately 130 self-service stores operated by consumer societies. Hamashbir Hamerkazi served as the central wholesale supplier both to the consumer societies and to the entire labor-controlled sector of the economy. It was also the largest commercial firm in the country, supplying the needs of a third of the population. In the 1990s, as the Histadrut sold off its assets, it passed into private hands.

THE PRODUCTIVE AND SERVICE COOPERATIVES

The productive and service cooperatives included a number of industrial concerns and service cooperatives that played a central role in the economy, particularly in the field of transport. Ha-Mashbir ha-Merkazi le-Ta'asiyyah was founded in 1963 in order to facilitate the development of consumer-goods industries linked to the labor sector of the economy; in 1966, the total sales of the factories owned wholly or in part by this company amounted to IL 103,000,000. They included the Shemen edible-oil factory, flour mills, metal, paper and food processing factories, etc. The service cooperatives and factories in this group belonged to a central body organized for this purpose, the Merkaz ha-Kooperaẓyah. Most of the industrial cooperatives were to be found in the food processing industry (35), metal and electrical industry (16), wood (15), and printing and paper (12). Over the years the majority of these factories were sold to private investors, and Ha-Mashbir ha-Merkazi le-Ta'asiyyah ceased to exist.

The cooperative transport companies play the leading role among the service cooperatives. *Egged runs the inter-urban bus lines in the country, operating 2,200 buses and employing 6,600 persons at the beginning of 1968. It also had a fleet of 200 tourist buses, 42 local offices, 8 subsidiary companies, and 20 modern garages. The second large transport cooperative is Dan, which serves the largest urban concentration in the country, with a population of 900,000 (including the cities of Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Petaḥ Tikvah, Bat Yam, Ḥolon, etc.). The company operated 795 buses on 80 urban lines with a combined length of 1,375 miles, transporting about a million passengers a day (at the end of 1967). In addition to the passenger transport companies, there were 24 cooperative freight forwarding companies operating all over the country and employing some 1,500 workers at the beginning of 1967. In 2004 Egged employed 6,309 workers, of whom 2,452 were Egged members. It owned 3,332 buses and operated on 1,308 bus routes. In all, it made 44,957 daily runs on these routes, serving about a million people over 810,000 km of roads. Dan employed about 2,400 workers in 2004, among whom 830 were members. The company served about 640,000 passengers a day. Most of the cooperative societies were linked to the labor movement. They could also be grouped as follows: institutional cooperatives, which included Hamashbir Hamerkazi, Tnuva, mutual aid credit cooperatives and others; and the cooperative economy, which included the cooperative agricultural settlements of various kinds (kibbutzim, moshavim, and moshavim shittufiyyim), as well as the productive and service cooperatives. Also included were the cooperative enterprises linked directly or indirectly to the cooperative settlements. Table: Cooperatives shows the extent of the activities of the two groups.

In its heyday the labor-affiliated cooperative sector occupied a relatively important place in the economy of Israel. In 1966 it employed 64% of the workers in the entire labor sector and about 15% of the total number of persons employed in the economy of the country. The percentage was higher in certain branches especially agriculture, where, as has been stated, labor-affiliated cooperatives were predominant. In transport, for example, the cooperatives employed 21% of the total; in commerce, banking, and finance, they employed 8–9% of the total; and in industry, 7% (especially industry based on the cooperative settlements).

[Leon Aryeh Szeskin /

Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

J. Lestschinsky, Ha-Tefuẓah ha-Yehudit… (1960); idem, Ha-Pezurah ha-Yehudit (1961); A. Stolinski, Di Kooperative Bavegung (1919), 203–19; M. Sakharov, Fertsig Yor Tsu Dinst der Kooperatsie (1940); Smilg, in: Di Idishe Tsaytung Yovel Bukh (1940), 291–308; Der Idisher Kooperator, 12 vols. (1922–33); H. Viteles, A History of the Cooperative Movement in Israel, 5 vols. (1966–1968); H. Drabkin, Pattern of Cooperative Agriculture in Israel (1962), incl. bibl.; H.F. Infield, Cooperative Living in Palestine (1946); Y. Avineri (ed.), Lu'aḥ ha-Ko'operativi shel Medinat Yisrael (1968); Histadrut, Makhon le-Meḥkar Kalkali ve-Ḥevrati, Meshek ha-Ovedim 1960–1965 (1967); W. Preuss, Ha-Tenu'ah ha-Shittufit ba-Olam (1957), incl. bibl. WEBSITES: www.kibbutz.org.il; www.egged.co.il; www.dan.co.il.


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.